First Appeared in The Music Box, October 2004, Volume 11, #10
Written by John Metzger
When The Black Crowes split, everyone expected that animated singer and lyricist Chris Robinson quickly would find a new band to front, but it was anyone’s guess as to what fate would befall his enigmatic younger brother Rich, whose quietly controlling demeanor shaded much of the group’s music. Indeed, things looked grim for the junior Robinson after his initial post-Crowes project Hookah Brown collapsed under the weight of a financial dispute among its members, but his solo debut Paper undoubtedly is his rather triumphant recovery. Not surprisingly, the collection draws inspiration from the same wellspring of driving rock, blues, gospel, and psychedelically-tinged Southern soul that formed the foundation of The Black Crowes’ sound, but Robinson breathes more life into it than was found on much of his former band’s latter day work. In addition, he occasionally utilizes a subtler touch, adding multi-part Crosby, Stills, and Nash-style harmonies to tunes like Enemy and Places, a touch of pedal steel to the pensive Forgiven Song, and a cascade of strings to Answers. In essence, Paper expands upon Robinson’s repertoire, but introduces nothing that is new to the genre of classic rock in general. Still, underscored with blazing guitars and greasy grooves, it’s a sure-fire hit among fans of The Black Crowes, and when he churns out the meditative swirl of When You Will or the hazy, Zeppelin-kissed Baby, he offers the promise of better things yet to come.
Paper is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2004 The Music Box